President Jacob Zuma will establish a commission of inquiry into the deaths of 34 protesters at Lonmin's Marikana Mine outside Rustenburg.
TREVOR NEETHLING | BDLIVE
Meanwhile, the Johannesburg- and London-listed company, the world's third-largest platinum miner, announced on Friday it would create an education fund to cover the schooling and university tuition of all the children of the people killed in Thursday's shootings.
Officials confirmed on Friday afternoon that the death toll stood at 34, with more than 78 injured after police opened fire on the striking miners who had been occupying a hillside outside the mine and adjacent to the Wonderkop informal settlement in support of demands for higher wages. Another 259 people were arrested after the shootings.
In a statement issued by his office, Mr Zuma said the commission would be established shortly but provided no specifics.
“We all are saddened and dismayed over the events of the past few days,” said Mr Zuma, who cut short his trip to a Southern African Development Community summit in Maputo after the shootings and travelled to the mine. His spokesman, Mac Maharaj, said Mr Zuma received a briefing from the police and later from injured workers at the Andrew Saffy mine hospital run by Lonmin.
Mr Maharaj said the government was convinced there were "serious reasons" behind the violence.
"The loss of life among workers and members of the police service is tragic and regrettable. These events are not what we want to see or what we want to become accustomed to in a democracy that is bound by the rule of law and where we are creating a better life for all our people," Mr Zuma said in the statement.
He also assured the country and the international community the government was committed to ensuring peace and stability. Several political analysts and economists, locally and abroad, expressed concern on Friday about the impact the incident would have on South Africa's image as an investment destination.
In a statement published on the company's website, Lonmin chief financial officer Simon Scott defended the miner’s efforts to build sound labour relations and to invest in the communities surrounding its mines, but admitted that those efforts had been dealt "a severe blow".
"We must start to rebuild those relationships, starting today, building back trust and trying to move forwards. Finally, a stable mining sector is vital to the economic future of this country. If the industry continues to be damaged by illegal actions, it is not just the economy that suffers, but also all our employees, their families and dependents. We need our employees to come back to work and we need to get mining again.”
Mr Scott said the company had established a desk at the Andrew Saffy Hospital to help families with the identification of bodies, assist with all the burial arrangements and offer bereavement counselling.
“In addition to the help-desk services, Lonmin commits to provide funding for the education of all the children of employees who lost their lives. This funding will cover education costs from primary school to university," he said.